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Festivals of Manipur – Hindu Festivals of Manipur in India


Manipur is the northeastern state of India and here is a look at the Vaishnava Hindu festivals and other community festivals of the hill state. All the major festivals of Manipur today reflect a synthesis of pre and post Vaishnava Hindu traditions. Dancing inevitably forms and integral part of all Manipuri festivals.

The festivals of Manipur are celebrated by different tribes like Meities, Naga, Kuki-Chins and Mizos, who worship a large number of sylvan deities.

Yasosangh

Yasosangh, or Holi, as it is known in other parts of India, is the biggest festival of Manipur. It starts on the full moon day in the month of Phalgun (February – March) and is celebrated for six days. In this festival, Krishna and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu are worshipped and young boys and girls perform the Thabal Chongka dance.

Baruni Ching Kaba

The Baruni Ching Kaba festival celebrated around March – April is another big and colorful festival of Manipur. Baruni is the name of a mountain peak on the eastern side of Imphal.

Baruni Kaba means climbing Mt. Baruni, which is said to be the abode of Shiva mahadeva (Noungpak Ningarthi). On the first night of the festival, boys, girls and old people climb the mountains with their friends and families. While climbing, worshippers place earthen lamps lit with oil on the wayside and, by midnight, the entire mountain slope seems to shimmer. By morning, the climbers reach the peak and start singing hymns and worship Shiva.

This is a happy occasion for young boys and girls. There is a belief that if young lovers climb up the mountain together, they will never be united; so lovers refrain from doing so.

Chirouba

Chirouba is the next festival celebrated to mark the Manipuri New Year and always falls on the 13th or 14th of April.

Lai Harouba - Umanglai

Lai Harouba is another prominent festival of Manipur. This is a tribal festival celebrated to please the sylvan gods and goddesses. It is also called Umanglai and is celebrated in the month of Jyeshta (May). People honor family deities and family elders on the day.

The festival is celebrated by all age groups and many dances are performed in front of the idols (murtis) of sun, moon, and the waters.

Kututsav - Chavang Kut or Khouro

Kututsav is an autumn festival and is also known as Chavang Kut or Khouro. It is celebrated every year during the first week of November after the harvest. The farmers fill their storehouses with grains as an auspicious symbol. The occasion is a thanksgiving to God.

Mingol Chak Kayuba

Mingol Chak Kayuba is an important family festival of Manipur. It is held in honor of daughters and sisters. Parents or brothers invite their daughters and sisters, specially the married ones, to their homes for a big reception and meal. On their departure, they are given lavish gifts. It is celebrated during the Manipuri month of Liyangi (October – November) on the second day of the full moon. It is an occasion for the whole family to gather.

Hindu Festivals of Manipur in India

Gan Nagai 

Gan Nagai festival is celebrated during the Manipuri month of Vakching (December – January) by the Kaburi Naga Tribe. It goes on for five days, many auspicious deeds are done, and new ventures are started during this period. On the last day, people invite friends and families together. Boys and girls give gifts to each other, and the old and the young dance together.

Lyura

The Lyura festival is held in February – March and the main features of this festival are a tug-of-war called Thingnida Khangakheen and wrestling (khangatuk and lakhagan). This is celebrated only by the Thangkul Naga tribe.

Hikaru Hitongawa

Hikaru Hitongawa is a religious boat race. This is the oldest religious festival for those o the Manipuri valley. On this day, Sri Krishna is worshipped, and anvla, a kind of tart berry, is served as a food offering to the gods (Prasad). This is celebrated in September at a special place in Manipur called Vijoyi Govinda in Imphal.

Apart from these, the people of state also observe Hindu festivals like Janmashtami, Rath Yatra, Durga Puja and Diwali.

Notes taken from -

  • Encyclopedia of Hinduism IV page no 84 - 85
  • Encyclopedia of India - Manipur Bareh, H. 1994
  • Religious culture of North Eastern India - Bhhattacharya N. N 1995